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Bad weather slows down winter expeditions

Ascent via the Abruzzi route on K 2

“The weather is not the best,” Krzysztof Wielicki, leader of the Polish K2 winter expedition, writes on Facebook. “Full of clouds and wind.” Denis Urubko ascended via the Abruzzi Spur to an altitude of 6,500 meters to check the condition of the route. Some old ropes are to be replaced, says Wielicki. The Polish climbers  had abandoned “for reasons of safety” their original plan to climb the Basque route (also known as the Cesen route). Previously Adam Bielecki and Rafal Fronia had been injured by rockfall. While Bielecki is able to continue, Fronia had to cancel the expedition because of a broken forearm.

Date

13. February 2018 | 17:24

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Moment of shock for Adam Bielecki on K2

It worked out well in the end

“Eh, that was close,” Adam Bielecki writes on Facebook from K2 Base Camp. “Several dozens of meters below camp 1 [at 5,800 m]  I was hit by a big stone. The result is a broken nose and six stitches, which were professionally put by Piotr Tomala and Marek Chmielarski directed by phone instructions from Robert Szymczak. In a few days I should be back in a perfect condition.” Previously, Krzysztof Wielicki, the leader of the Polish winter expedition on the second highest mountain on earth, had reported that Bielecki had been injured on the forehead and nose, although he had worn a helmet. Wielecki emphasized that the 34-year-old had not lost consciousness and was still able to descend to the base camp: “We hope that he will soon be back to full strength.”

Date

7. February 2018 | 16:45

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New expedition rules in force in Nepal

Three 8000ers at a glance: Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

The much-discussed new rules for expeditions in Nepal are in effect. According to Dinesh Bhattarai, General Director of the Ministry of Tourism, the amendment of the mountaineering rules was published today in the government  gazette. “The Department of Tourism can now issue certificates to the Sherpa summiters,” Bhattarai told the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, referring to the only new rule that in advance had been met with approval by all sides.

Date

6. February 2018 | 17:49

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Decision on Nanga Parbat postponed, Urubko in Camp 2 on K2

Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

Do you already have aching muscles from keeping fingers crossed? Your pain could become even stronger. Because the summit bid of the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol that was expected already for Sunday is delayed. “We are in Camp 3, (it’s) windy (with speeds of)  about 100 km/h,” Tomek is quoted today on his Facebook page. “Tomorrow Camp 4, summit push (on) 25 January. Good weather (is expected for) that day.” In fact, the weather forecast for the summit at 8,125 meters predicts for Thursday the lowest wind speeds this week: between 15 and 25 km/h. Assuming this forecast is correct, it will be almost calm, however with minus 42 degrees Celsius quite cold, some clouds are expected. Mackiewicz and Revol climb without bottled oxygen.

Date

22. January 2018 | 14:53

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Summit bid on Nanga Parbat, Txikon on top of Pumori

Nanga Parbat

It’s time for the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol this Sunday. According to Polish media information, the two climbers wanted to start at 2 a.m. local time (Saturday 10 p.m. CET) from their last high camp at 7,200 meters towards the summit. It will be their first and last attempt, it said. For Sunday, clear weather with temperatures of minus 33 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of about 60 kilometers per hour is expected for the highest point of Nanga Parbat at 8,125 meters. Mackiewicz and Revol are climbing without bottled oxygen.

Date

20. January 2018 | 22:16

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Summit attempt on Nanga Parbat?

Elisabeth Revol (l.) and Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat

“We are acclimatized. We’ll try to reach the summit.” Tomek Mackiewicz is quoted on his Facebook page with these words. After about two weeks of strong winds, the weather on Nanga Parbat had improved, the conditions were good, it said. Tomek and his climbing partner Elisabeth Revol probably set off today towards their material depot at 6,700 meters.

Date

18. January 2018 | 15:22

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Helga Hengge: “Everest has given me a lot”

Helga Hengge in Cologne

You have only successfully climbed a mountain when you reach after the summit also the valley safe and sound. In this sense, Helga Hengge was the first successful German female mountaineer on Mount Everest. As a member of a commercial expedition team in spring 1999, she climbed from the Tibetan north side to the 8850-meter-high summit. Hannelore Schmatz had been the first German woman to reach the highest point of Everest in fall 1979, but she had died of exhaustion at 8,300 meters on her descent.

In 2011, Hengge became the first German female climber to complete the collection of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Helga is now 51 years old. She lives with her husband, her twelve-year-old daughter and her eleven-year-old son in Munich – and still goes to the mountains. Last fall, she tackled the 6543-meter-high Shivling in the Indian Himalayas. I met her on the margins of a lecture in Cologne.

Helga, it’s almost 19 years since you were on Mount Everest. Do you have any special relationship with the mountain?

Date

17. January 2018 | 23:27

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Camp 2 reached on Everest, storm on K2 and Nanga Parbat

Alex Txikon in Everest high camp (in the background on the right Pumori)

Alex Txikon is pleased with the progress made so far on his winter expedition on Mount Everest. On Sunday, the Spaniard and five Sherpas ascended from the base camp on the previously prepared route through the Khumbu Icefall, slept in Camp 1 at 6,050 meters and reached Camp 2 on Monday. “I am very happy, I did not think for a moment that we were going to reach Camp 2 at 6,500 meters in just one day and with a small team of only six people,” says the 36-year-old.

Date

16. January 2018 | 13:03

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Everest winter expedition: On the double to Camp 1

Alex Txikon in the Khumbu Icefall

This went fast. In just four days, the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Sherpas Tenzing Gyalzen, Gelje, Cheppal, Walung Dorji and Pasang Norbu have completed the route through the Khumbu Icefall and reached Camp 1 at 6,050 meters. “Great job, we are very happy,” says Alex, adding that it was really hard work, each of them had carried between 25 and 35 kilos. The 36-year-old Basque points out that it took the six climbers five days less for this first major task than his team during the failed winter attempt in 2017 – despite the fact that at that time eleven, i.e. five more expedition members had been involved in the work. “The route through the icefall is very complex and required our full concentration,” says Alex. According to his words, he had searched together with the “Icefall Doctor” Gelje Sherpa for the ice areas with the lowest risk of collapsing.

Date

12. January 2018 | 0:01

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Winter expeditions: Just ahead, above and far above base camp

Polish K2 team at Concordia

Three winter expeditions to eight-thousanders, three different phases. In Pakistan, the Polish team led by Krzysztof Wielicki today reached Concordia after trekking over the Baltoro Glacier and is expected on Tuesday to pitch their tents in the base camp at the foot of K2, the last remaining unclimbed eight-thousander in winter. Already six days ago, the Spaniard Alex Txikon, the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” and their Nepalese Sherpa team had reached the base camp on the south side of Mount Everest. They are fixing a route through the Khumbu Icefall. Like last year, Alex participates in the work (as the video below shows).

Date

8. January 2018 | 17:13

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New Everest rules: Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

Mount Everest

No more permits for solo climbers, blind and double amputees – following the argument of the Nepalese government, this makes the highest mountains in the world safer. A look at the facts shows that a sledgehammer is to be used to crack a nut. For example, let’s take a look at what’s happening on Mount Everest. The Himalayan Database (now freely accessible to all, thus also to the government of Nepal) has so far recorded 1967 expeditions to the highest mountain in the world. Of these, only six – say 0.3 percent – were classified as solo expeditions.

Date

3. January 2018 | 18:12

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Nepal adopts new rules for Everest and Co.

Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

The time has come. According to reports of the newspapers “Kathmandu Post”  and “The Himalayan Times”, the government of Nepal has adopted some new rules for expeditions – “to improve the safety of the climbers”, as Tourism Secretary Maheswor Neupane said. The new rules apply to all mountains above 6,600 meters – these fall under the responsibility of the government – and will be in force already in the spring season 2018.

Date

30. December 2017 | 11:33

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Txikon to Everest, Lunger and Lunger to Siberia

Lunger, Moro, Ali, Txikon (from r. to l.) on Nanga Parbat in 2016

I was wrong with my guess. The dream team of Nanga Parbat 2016 will not be together on Mount Everest this winter, but will go their separate ways. Today, the Spanish climber Alex Txikon announced that he would try together with the 41-year-old Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” to scale the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen. The other two members of the Nanga summit team, the Italian Simone Moro and the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger, are drawn to freezing cold Siberia.

Date

22. December 2017 | 17:11

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Lunger/Moro: A meeting with the Pope – and then?

Tamara Lunger (l.) and Simone Moro (r.) with Pope Francis

On Thursday, the (calendrical) winter begins – and thus the question rises again: Who will try to climb which mountain in the cold season? A top-class Polish expedition led by veteran Krzysztof Wielicki will attempt to climb K 2, the last remaining eight-thousander which has not been scaled in winter so far. The Pole Tomek Mackiewicz and the Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol are said to have already arrived in Pakistan in order to return to Nanga Parbat.

And what’s about the South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger and the Italian Simone Moro? Both are considered as extremely “winterproof”. The 50-year-old Simone has four first winter ascents of eight-thousanders on his account (Shishapangma in 2005, Makalu in 2009, Gasherbrum II in 2011, Nanga Parbat in 2016). The 31-year-old Tamara and Moro tackled in vain Manaslu in winter 2015. A year later on Nanga Parbat, Lunger had to turn back only 70 meters below the summit, because she felt bad. In this Advent, Lunger and Moro already had a summit meeting: with the Pope. I contacted Tamara:

Tamara, two professional mountaineers (Simone and you) took a selfie with Pope Francis, how did that happen?

Date

20. December 2017 | 11:19

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New Everest rules in Nepal? Wait and eat Dal Bhat!

Dal Bhat

The fact that this news pops up every year is almost as certain as the lentils in the Nepalese national dish Dal Bhat: The government in Kathmandu wants to change the mountaineering rules on Mount Everest. The emphasis is on “wants to”. In the end, there is always nothing more than this statement of intent, because the proposed amendment gets stuck in any department – or the current government is replaced by a new one. The Ministry of Tourism is now announcing for the umpteenth time that the rules for granting Everest permits will be tightened.

Date

7. December 2017 | 0:33

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